Cruise Ship Near Norway With Nearly 1,400 Passengers Is Being Evacuated

A cruise ship with nearly 1,400 passengers and crew members lost engine power in heavy winds and waves near the coast of Norway on Saturday, injuring several people and prompting a painstaking, hourslong evacuation, the authorities said.

The evacuation of the ship, the Viking Sky, began around 2 p.m. local time and stretched into the darkness past midnight, at which point only 180 of the 1,373 people on board had been removed, said Per Fjeld, a spokesman for Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Southern Norway, which was conducting the operation.

When helicopters reached the ship, rescue personnel were lowered to remove passengers by winch one at a time. Filled with 10 to 15 people, the helicopters then returned to land.

Rescued passengers being helped from a helicopter in Hustadvika, Norway.CreditOdd Roar Lange/NTB Scanpix, via Associated Press

The images showed the Viking Sky listing in the midst of whipping winds and white-capped waves. Water could be seen rushing onto the ship and furniture sliding from one side to another.

“The evacuation is very slow,” Alexus Sheppard, who had been waiting to be evacuated for six hours, said in an interview from aboard the ship.

“The ship is rocking and rolling but at anchor,” she said. “Everyone is calm, except when we get rolled by a big wave.”

A spokesman for Viking described the injuries as not life-threatening but did not answer questions seeking more information. The spokesman said the Sky was not sinking, despite photos and videos showing water on the ship.

“The people on board the ship are safe, though it’s not a pleasant cruise for them any longer,” Mr. Fjeld said. “Those who are on the ship, there’s no real hurry. They are not in any danger or anything like that.”

The crew on the 47,800-ton ship, which was traveling from Tromso to Stavanger in Norway, sounded a mayday around 2 p.m. local time near the city of Molde. Mr. Fjeld said that at that time, only one of the ship’s four engines was working.

The Norwegian cargo vessel Hagland Captain also foundered in heavy seas. Its crew had to be evacuated.CreditSvein Ove Ekornesvag/EPA, via Shutterstock

It was not immediately clear what caused the cruise ship to lose power. Local police said the crew feared that the ship could run aground, according to The Associated Press, but Mr. Fjeld said that as of Saturday evening, that was no longer a danger.

“That was a situation that was rather critical from the start, but it managed to move away from the dangerous part of the coast,” he said.

The Viking spokesman said the Viking Sky was “proceeding on its own power.” Mr. Fjeld said that three of the ship’s four engines were working and that the ship was moving slowly south.

People who had been flown off the ship were being put up in hotels, and Viking would arrange return flights for all guests, the spokesman said.

“We are working closely with the relevant authorities and all operational procedures were followed in line with international regulations,” the spokesman said. “In addition, Viking has dispatched an operational task force, including the company’s owner, to Molde.”

Mr. Fjeld said the heavy winds and poor weather also led a cargo ship to sound a mayday, and rescuers had to pluck nine people from that ship on Saturday.

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